So I don’t have any friends. We don’t need to get into it, but the friend pool, she is shallow. Oh, I’ve got work acquaintances! I’ve got no problem interacting with people I’ve worked with – that’s basically just complaining about people in our work environment we both hate. Just as far as real friendships go, I’ve got maybe one. I don’t know what they think about it, though. Haven’t asked.
The problem with a lot of video games is that they now expect you to have friends. And that is fair. Because most people do! Most people are able to meet other like-minded people and connect on a human level. Some may even make eye-contact. Again, I don’t know.
Sure, being a lonely person is hard for a few reasons. Namely the obvious loneliness in which you stare into the abyss of your own existence and realize that your erasure from the world would only be an inconvenience to those you assume love you. But secondly, it’s the multiplayer games thing.
I mean, do you know how much I envy all of you? I read an article on Kotaku where someone said they met their best friends – fucking plural! – while playing video games! You know when someone does a magic trick in front of a dog and the dog just looks confused? That’s how that makes me feel. Just absolutely baffled.
Look, I don’t begrudge anyone reading this their friendships. All of my issues are entirely my fault and caused by a combination of extreme and anxiety and even more extreme selfishness. If this article doesn’t apply to you, I am very happy for you. Genuinely. You did something that to me is on the level of buying a house or, I don’t know, buying a house. That’s all I’ve got.
And for those of you that are still on board, I’ve decided to review a few multiplayer games from the perspective of a lonely person.
World of Warcraft Classic
Okay, this one’s stressful. You’ve got to pick a faction and a race and a class and it’s a whole production. A lot of stuff to learn that’s really important to a lot of people. The nice thing is, like all of these games, you can often join random groups for adventure. The not nice thing is, you realize that as you play, those brief relationships born during a raid on a dungeon will immediately disappear, just like all the relationships you’ve ever had – but faster. 8/10
Alright, alright. This one’s a little less stressful but it’s too late to start playing, so don’t bother. There’s a lot of lore to learn, but everyone who’s playing has already learned it all. There’s a lot of fun weapons to unlock, but you’re going to be, like, the last person to ever unlock them. Everyone is way ahead of you and they’re laughing at you for even trying. You can go ahead and team up with some strangers or whatever, but is it really worth your time? Are you really going to get into Destiny now, and without anyone backing you up? Has anyone ever backed you up? Did Denise back you up? 8/10
There’s a lot of good news in Borderlands 3. One is that you can pretty successfully play the game without any friends. I’m doing it! Two is that since characters in the game are constantly talking to you, it feels a lot less lonely. There is a downside: Those characters are awful. It’s like having a teenager shout references in your ear for hours. But are those references any worse than the thoughts you have late at night while you stare at the ceiling? Claptrap has never made you Google things that you’d never tell your therapist. Just saying. 9/10.
Well, at least in this one the overall main point is to kill other people. If you’re awkward at online socializing as I am, the ability to play a multiplayer game in relative silence is a godsend. Despite its reputation as a game for kids, or its burnt-out, former flavor-of-the-week status, Fortnite is a pretty fun experience you can enjoy over just a few minutes or the course of hours. It’s also free, which means you can save money for all those meals you eat alone in the dark after seeing the pitying face of the delivery guy. There’s a point where they stopped including extra plastic knives and forks because they know. They know it’s just you. Alone. 8/10.
Overwatch is a pretty great game if you don’t have friends! It’s colorful, fast, and it shuffles you right into battle! Easy to practice, hard to win! Especially hard to win because you always play as Mercy and nobody ever has your back. You do everything you can to support the other players, but when you’re under fire you’re just some collateral damage to their forward assault. They’re just not there for you. Sound familiar? It should. It’s been what you’ve gone through your whole fucking life. And look at you now, paying for the chance to experience it again online. 9/10.
We all know what the best part of social anxiety is, right? Say it with me: Being yelled at by other people about things. Right. You got it. And here is your chance. Just boot up this obtuse game that – sort of like Destiny, you’re way too late on – and buckle up for some sweet, sweet abuse. Because you don’t know what you’re doing. Who were you going to ask? Sure, there’s a YouTube video on some basic tips and strategies, but that video was like 20 minutes long. You’re 35 and you’re watching a how-to-play video? Jesus Christ, your parents had kids by now. They had a house. You’re buying character skins for games. You don’t even have anyone to show those skins to! It’s like wearing designer Nikes to the airport; someone might notice, but why do you care? Also, if you really want to feel bad, check out League of Legends. 6/10
You know what’s the crazy thing? This game takes, like, forever to get good at. Even if you’re already good, you’ve got hours before you can make a real dent in the experience. And somehow – I swear this is true – people who have the time to foster and nurture friendships are already ahead of you. How does that happen? You should have more free time! It’s not like you’ve got personal connections weighing you down. But them’s the facts! Anyway, it’s pretty cool and you can play it on your own, but surviving is much harder. You get the metaphor. 7/10
You don’t need to talk to people at all. 10/10
Mike Drucker is a current writer at Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. He’s written for other TV shows, Nintendo (where he co-wrote the English language jokes for Kid Icarus: Uprising), and some comic books. He was recently received his fifth Emmy nomination and even more recently lost. He has one friend.